Tumor Cell Growth and Migration

Cancers of the lung, pancreas and liver are listed as the first-, third- and fourth-most lethal cancers in the United States and are increasing rapidly, according to the National Cancer Institute. The five-year survival rate for people with these tumors is exceptionally poor due to a lack of effective therapies to target these cancer cells. This is because they tend to migrate away from the site of the primary tumor to invade distal organs. This metastatic behavior of tumor cells is the single most important factor affecting survival, as 90% of mortality is due to metastatic invasion. This behavior is regulated by hundreds of different cytoskeletal-membrane proteins.

The Membrane Trafficking in Disease Lab's research team seeks to understand how these tumor cells:

  • Grow, multiply and dissociate from the primary tumor.
  • Remodel the surrounding tumor stroma by protease secretion to escape into adjacent blood vessels.
  • Support collective and independent migration to distal locations where they can form new tumors.

The lab's investigators explore how the metastatic behavior of tumor cells is regulated to discover new treatments for lung, liver and pancreatic cancers.